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5 Old School Hobbies that Will Help You Stay Stress-Free

5 Old School Hobbies that Will Help You Stay Stress-Free

Ah, the hectic lifestyle that we all lead in the 21st century! It leaves nothing to the imagination simply because we have no time for imagination. We are all busy with our schools, jobs, practices, family chores, etc. Sometimes, we just need to take it down a notch, relax, and let the stress and the pressure of such hectic lives just flow out of our bodies.

However, it is not always possible to simply wind down. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t stop thinking about all the obligations that you have. The brain (that stubborn little piece of gray matter that won’t work with you sometimes, even though it’s supposed to be you) needs some distraction- something that will occupy it and make it forget all about the troubles both ahead and behind. Taking up a hobby is a perfect way to do this. It will give you something fun to do while relieving you of the obligations of the serious stuff in life.

The benefits of having something to do in your free time are numerous from helping you take a break, making you physically active, to producing eustress (which is a “positive” kind of stress that keeps you excited about life).

Of course, you can’t just pick any hobby and stick with it. If you don’t like it, it will never work. The point is to find something that you like doing. This way a hobby will be a stress-relief. Here are some of my recommendations for something to do in your spare time which are both productive and stress-relieving.

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1. Start writing

Every list that I’ve seen on the internet regarding hobbies does not fail to mention reading books and listening to music as something that you can do for relaxing. Don’t get me wrong, these are great hobbies, but you can take it a step further and really engage the creative side of your brain.

If you start writing you will get a window into a completely new world- a world that you shape and where everything is according to your rules. You don’t have to be an expert writer. Write whatever you want not caring about a single literary device. There are no rules if it is just a hobby. At the same time, it will give you a way to write down your sorrows and the things that keep you on edge. It can also give you a way to examine and thereby deal with those things, if you are creative enough.

The best thing about this is that it is practically free. All you need are some pieces of paper and a pen (writing on your computer is not as relaxing as you’d think). The feel of actually writing is incomparable to anything else. If you are unsure how to start there are creative writing classes available, most of them for free usually as a part of a larger program.

2. Gardening

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    My sister and I are two very different people. For example, while I’m writing this, she’s in the garden plucking the grass, watering the already grown plants and planting new ones. I could never do something like that (I don’t like to get dirty), but I can see the happiness of having a well-nurtured garden in her every move when she’s outside. She does not tire from all the digging, bending, plucking and all the other activities connected to this.

    When I ask her how this activity relaxes her, she says it’s all in the subtle symbolism of the flowers and what feelings it evokes in her. She also says that she can activate both the left and the right side of the brain as nurturing the plants needs analytical skills, while arranging them requires creative thinking. Add to this the fact that it provides regular physical activity and you’ll see that she’s right – it really can do wonders for your mind and change your life for the better.

    Also, did I mention that you can actually provide for your family this way? There is a woman in Italy who manages to provide for a family of five by producing everything on her own, in her garden. The whole family lives on €5 per day (that’s €150 per month – for comparison, Italy’s minimum wage is €800), but they have everything they need from bread to soap, all homemade and- most of it- from what is grown in the garden. While what she’s doing is more than a hobby, it just goes to show how productive gardening can be.

    3. DIY

    There are some (like my sister) who dislike writing and think that they have no talent for it, and there are others (like me) who dislike gardening because of the dirt, the hard work and the insects. For those who dislike both, there are other options. Are your hands crafty? Have you tried making things on your own?

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    Doing it yourself does not always mean making things completely from scratch. You don’t have to be a carpenter and carve a piece of furniture out of a tree trunk all on your own (although, if you think you can do it, go for it, but take some lessons first). You can choose simpler things which will still give you something to do and think about. For example, you could refurbish what you already have. The idea does not have to be yours. There are plenty of suggestions for DIY things online.

    I have found some ideas for hand painted wine glasses and- being an artistic soul- I sat down and re-decorated all my wine glasses. While I was doing it, I was focused on the task and it made me oblivious of all the other problems in life.Whenever I’d drink from them, I’d be delighted that I’ve managed to create something new and exciting out of something that I’ve been looking at for years. All it took was a few dollars’ worth of acrylic paint and some time to focus on the painting, and that was it.

    4. Hiking

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      When you mention hiking, some people immediately think of a person climbing up a tall mountain with 45-50 pounds of gear strapped to their back, but this is just one way to do it. For the less hardcore out there,( e.g. people like me who can only spare an hour a day for fun physical activities), there are easier trails available. If you have your gear ready to go and live near some good hiking trails, you can hike nearly every day without messing up your hectic daily schedule.

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      While running or some exercise should be done daily for the sake of your health, they can be monotonous activities. Hiking on the other hand, can take you places you’ve never been before away from the urban jungle of your city/town and into unspoiled nature.

      Wherever in the world there is elevated ground, there are hiking trails available. It can even be something as simple as a long walk up a small hill. What’s better, most of these trails are free – all you need is to join a couple of hiking enthusiasts who will take you along. Once you’re at the top of that hill, you’ll feel free like never before and you’ll forget all about the stress that’s been gnawing at your mental health.

      5. Sewing and knitting

      Finally, for those among you who are physically active enough (constantly living on a hectic timetable can be an extremely tiring activity on its own), settling down in a chair and working with your hands only probably sounds like a 5-star-hotel holiday. That’s exactly what knitting and sewing bring to the table. Add to that the fact that you can create your own wear and be your own fashion designer – what else does a woman need?

      Knitting is something that you don’t need to invest much in, although it is a bit more complicated than sewing. You need to buy some down and learn some knitting patterns and you’re good to go. However, it takes great skill with your hands to make every pattern as good as it should be.

      Sewing, on the other hand, will probably require you to purchase a sewing machine (there are even special sewing machines for beginners), but having a machine will make the work much easier (for those who are a bit clumsy with their hands). Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll be able to give a proud answer of “Oh, this? I’ve made this!” when people ask you where you bought that wonderful and unique dress.
      In my opinion, hobbies should be somewhat old-fashioned. This will help us stay in touch with nature and take a step back from the ever-more-frenetic world that we live in. Life used to be a lot slower-paced way back when there were less technological marvels around. Adopting some traits from those simpler times will help your brain defragment, improving relaxation and stress-relief, thus helping you cope with all the hardships that everyday life brings.

      Featured photo credit: http://unsplash.com/post/93258573139/download-by-s-zolkin via pexels.com

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      Katarina Milovanovic

      Creative Writer

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      Last Updated on September 10, 2019

      7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

      7 Morning Rituals to Empower Your Day And Change Your Life

      Most of your reality is not a given. It is shaped by your expectations, beliefs and thoughts you have formed about it. A big chunk of these beliefs and expectations are encoded into habits you integrate in your daily life.

      Yes, some of these habits are formed unconsciously and can be counter-productive or limiting but conversely, you can consciously form positive habits that will transform and empower your life significantly.

      This is a powerful point of departure that more and more people are becoming aware of. The most common trait of highly successful people is the recognition of the power they have in co-creating their reality through changing the way they think, believe or expect their reality to be.

      One of the most effective ways of changing our belief patterns is through practising and maintaining daily rituals. Ancient traditions had clearly understood the power of rituals in reinforcing habits and changing the way we see and create our reality a long, long time ago.

      Once again, if you look into the life history of any highly successful individual, you will find some form of ritual in their daily routine. Some of these rituals may seem banal or eccentric but don’t be deceived by appearances. Rituals are one of the most effective self-empowering tools freely available at the practitioner’s disposal – that is, you!

      Below are some the easiest yet life-changing morning rituals you can do every day. Of course, you can have your own afternoon or bed-time rituals but morning rituals are extremely effective in empowering your day since they help you charge yourself before it all starts.

      1. Gratitude

      Feeling gratitude and appreciation for those little signs and moments of joy happening in your life is probably one of the most overlooked or underestimated rituals. It is a perfect morning ritual to start your day on a very positive key.

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      The real power of gratitude is that it makes you pick out and focus on what is working in your life – what is in tune with your being as a whole. It is selectively positive. It reinforces happiness and positivity by shedding light on those awesome things, small or big, that grace your everyday living.

      Quite often, we just pick out the pain points, the problems, the bottle necks, whatever it is that is not working in our life and causing friction, anxiety and unhappiness. This is like constantly rewriting the script of your life with a negative or tragic overtone. Your subconscious mind follows faithfully that script you write whether it is a negative or positive one.

      So feeling gratitude is undoubtedly an immensely empowering ritual. Start your day by being thankful for those positive things that happened the previous day or throughout the week. It could be something really petty and small. It doesn’t matter. You might be grateful for an unexpected visit from an old friend, a beautiful encounter with a kind stranger, a new opportunity or whatever it is that shines your way. Do it every morning and see what happens during the day.

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        2. Writing Down Your Most Important Tasks

        This is a very practical ritual. Start your day by identifying and writing down from one to three of the most important tasks you need to complete during that day. These tasks are ones which support important long term goals that are aligned to your purpose, passion or general direction in life.

        For example, if writing a book or building an online community are important long term goals which are aligned to your personal growth, then an important task for the day might be finishing off a particular page or two of the book or coming up with fresh content ideas for the online community.

        What is important with this ritual is that you identify these tasks and complete them as early in the day as possible. Of course, you will have other tasks apart from the ones you will write down but, these are tasks which can be tackled later or batched up and carried out in one go.

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        Writing down your most important tasks in the morning helps you focus your day and life according to what is essential. It helps you prioritize and manage your time better. As a result, you simplify your life by applying your focus and energy on what really counts for your overall life progress.

        3. Affirm Your Goals in Writing or Drawing

        This is similar to the previous idea but different in its application and purpose. Writing down your most important tasks of the day is a way to have a concrete structure of action to follow. Affirming your goals, on the other hand, is a very powerful way of crystallizing your vision and goals in life into your everyday mental space.

        Writing down or doodling your goals on a piece of paper helps you externalize those goals by giving them form. In return, they are reflected back in your subconscious mind and thus, reinforcing them and integrating them more wholly.

        An example of this would be writing down “I am achieving greater success in my career” or “I am becoming healthier and stronger through my exercise.” Notice the present tense being used as a way to tell yourself you are in the process already. Remember the life script we subconsciously follow? You are basically modifying the script to be applied now in the present.

        Drawing or doodling can be equally, or even more, effective  (if you are more of a visual person) as it summarizes a graphical representation of your goals. For example, if your goal is to build a new house or live in another country, you can draw the house or draw things that symbolise the country you want to live in.

        write down goals

          4. Practice Qi Gong Exercises

          According to Chinese philosophy, Qi (pronounced ‘Chee’) means the life force or energy inherent in all things;[1] and Qi Gong is the practice to cultivate and circulate that energy in your body. This may sound esoteric or complicated but actually, Qi Gong is really a set of simple exercises aimed at increasing your health and vitality.

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          There are numerous forms and practices available for free through the online media. As a morning ritual, I recommend following these simple exercises by Qi Gong master Lee Holden:

          5. Drink Hot Water with Lemon

          Simply add a slice of lemon in a glass of hot water and drink one every morning. This is a very simple ritual I follow faithfully every morning.

          Apart from being a good source of vitamin C and a great way of flushing out toxins in the morning, it balances and maintains the PH levels in the body, reduces pain and inflammation in joints and knees and helps nourishing brain and nerve cells. Here are some more benefits of drinking hot water with lemon.

          6. Rise Earlier

          The practical advantages of waking up early are obvious.

          For example, you gain more time for doing exercise such as walking, cycling or Qi Gong as suggested above. You gain more time to be with yourself to reflect, meditate or, more importantly, carry out the other morning rituals.

          So rising early can be seen as a foundation for all the other morning rituals. Many, like myself, find that they are more productive in the early hours of the day.

          Also, various studies have shown that there are many other benefits from waking up an hour or two earlier in the morning. Sleeping early and waking up early helps the body attune with the earth’s circadian rhythms thus, promoting more restorative sleep. Other curious results from such studies show, for instance, that early risers tend to be more optimistic and can anticipate and solve problems more efficiently than the norm.[2]

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          7. Listen to Uplifting Music

          Uplifting music can have a direct impact on our mood, especially in the morning. It charges us emotionally and tunes us into a more positive outlook of the day ahead.

          Most people wake up to music or listen to music as they commute to work. Very often, however, they tune in to a radio or randomly pick a playlist from their device. Being more selective and conscious of the music you listen to in the morning can have a great impact on your day and life in general.

          It’s funny how we try to choose music according to our mood. For example if you are feeling down or disappointed by something, you are more prone to listen to music that reflects that mood – for instance blues, sad songs or downtempo music. This has the effect of reinforcing that mood. What you need to do is the exact opposite and retune your mood by listening to music that beats to a different tune than that mood.

          Try to listen to more uplifting music in the morning even if, or especially if, your mood does not dictate so.

          More About Energetic Habits & Rituals

          Featured photo credit: Carli Jeen via unsplash.com

          Reference

          [1] Live Science: What Is Qi Gong
          [2] Harvard Business Review: Defend Your Research: The Early Bird Really Does Get the Worm

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